Tique | art paper asks eight questions to an international art book publisher about its motivation, practice and role today. This week: RVB Books.
What motivated you to start publishing?
We dedicate our professional practice to photography and making books because we feel that from a creative point of view this really is the most exciting field at the moment. There’s contact with the avant-garde art scene, so it seemed natural to us to get involved, firstly by setting up the publishing house, then by opening a space dedicated to new editorial practices – working from printed material towards exhibition, rather than the reverse. We see the book as a medium in its own right, and obviously we’re closer to the artist’s book than to the exhibition catalogue.
Also we noticed that in France, in term of publishing, photographers had very few interlocutors to carry their book projects. Until very recently to get their work known they nearly only had museum or galleries…
But a very important change in publishing these past years offered great new opportunities, the success of artists’ books created a new path for them, and we wanted to be part of this adventure.
How would you describe your role in the creation of a publication?
We like to work very close with the photographer and think the book as a specific way to show his work. It has to be an end on itself.
Our books are at the opposite of exhibition catalogues or even monographic…. For use each book has to serve the photographs at the best, it’s not only about high quality printing…. Every thing we do, we choose (paper, binding, sizes) has to express the intention of the series. So you understand each book is necessarily different and that we focus each time on a very specific lay out.
Regarding the authors we work with, we started with quite young artist that we want to promote. They often work with collected photographs, I would say that they are in between classic photography and contemporary art…. The common factor is that we love exchanging and sharing ideas with our artists: we do everything we can to meet their requirements, so that the book as object is as faithful as possible to the spirit of their work; so that it’s not just a report, but rather a contribution to what they’re doing.
But they are no rules, we have for example worked on an historical project, but we did it our way…
What do you look for in a project?
It is hard to explain. What I can say is that our collaborations are first and foremost a matter of encounters and affinities. So far our choices have mostly gone to emerging artists who see the artist’s book and image-related experiments as crucial to their approach.
What advice would you give to anyone planning to make a publication?
If you’re asking for someone aiming to publish a photographer or an artist, we would advice him to try to imagine the book as a work in itself, an artistic project that brings together ideas, images and correct form.
For the artist we would recommend he asks himself why he wants theses images in a book. And to always keep in mind while working on it, that the book has to be the piece. For both it involves a close relationship, lots of talking and taking some time to end up with the best project.
What do you consider to be your biggest challenge?
To be still publishing books after now 6 years and to keep on doing it our way.
As a lot specialised (art)bookstores are disappearing, is it harder to present the publications to a wide audience? Are you using new channels to reach them?
We build our audience differently. Using technologies such as social medias of course but also taking part in many artbookfairs.
What do you find the most rewarding?
Of course winning a great prize or having a book sold out is a thrill. But the pleasure is way more in the ideas, in the making process, in the conversation, in the engagement.
What does the future hold?